Friday, October 28, 2011

Naval Surface Forces at NOB Norfolk, 1944

This is an August 1944 aerial shot of the piers at Naval Operating Base Norfolk (present day Naval Station Norfolk). Tied up at the piers are ships that represent two very different roles the U.S. Navy's surface forces played during World War II.

The two ships in the center of the picture are the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) and the large cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1). Both ships had recently been commissioned and were in Hampton Roads for gunnery training in the Chesapeake Bay. After several weeks of practice, the Navy deployed both ships to the Pacific for the final drive on Japan. Both vessels served as escorts to the aircraft carrier task forces and shore bombardment vessels.

The ships in the lower half of the picture are the escort carrier USS Croatan (CVE-25) and several unidentified destroyers tied up at the base's destroyer escort piers. The locally-based escort carrier was the central member of an anti-submarine warfare "hunter-killer" group consisting of Croatan and two to four destroyers/destroyer escorts. During the war, Croatan's aircraft and her destroyers accounted for six U-boat kills (U-856, -488, -490, -154, -880, and -1235).

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